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TRACK LIST: 1. Vanished from Earth 2:33 2. Hydra 7:24 3. Fight the Power 4:42 4. Daenerys 7:19 5. The Girl in the Mirror 12:00 6. Pandora 4:36 7. Grey Matter Absence 25:42 LINEUP: Rodrigo San Martin guitars; backing vocals Fernando Refay keyboards; backing vocals Mike Buenaventura Lima drums, percussion Ignacio Gulich bass; backing vocals With: Charlie Giardina lead vocals
Prolusion. The Argentinian band VANISHED FROM EARTH (VFE from now on) was formed by Fernando Refay and Rodrigo San Martin in 2011, following a set of previously successful collaborations between the musicians. Joined by Mike Buenaventura Lima and Ignacio Gulich they started performing live the same year. They released their self-titled debut album digitally in 2012, and the CD edition of this production was self-released by the band in the fall of 2013.
As far as debut albums go, the one from VFE is a production I'd describe as something of a roller-coaster ride. My impression is that this is a fairly new band still trying to figure out where they want to go, reaching out towards their various borders just as much as focusing on the aspects shared by all members. That the lead vocals are handled by not a member of the band (see line-up above), from what I can understand, may perhaps add a certain emphasis to that perception of course. Vocalist Giardina has a peculiar voice that merits a mention. He often tends to opt for a delivery of the kind I associate with 80's heavy metal bands, especially when the compositions explore tendencies related to that kind of music, and vocals of that kind are something of an acquired taste to begin with. That his voice isn't what I'd describe as typical at times he sounds extremely similar to a guy like Mike Patton also makes this aspect of the overall experience a curious one. On quite a few occasions the songs here somewhat resemble the early Faith No More in certain ways, primarily in terms of elements used rather than the overall sound, with The Girl in the Mirror the compositions that features most of those instances. A composition that is also one of the highlights of this disc. Otherwise the album wanders back and forth between hard rock, heavy metal, progressive metal and progressive rock in a way that may indicate a band still somewhat in search of where they want to go and how they want to go there. Opening cut and title track Vanished from Earth is a delightful short piece with layered, classical music-inspired keyboards backed by plucked guitars, while the following piece Hydra comes across as a more pedestrian heavy metal-based affair with keyboards added on top for a touch of elegance and a more majestic sound. Pleasant enough, but without inspiring all that much. Pandora isn't the most inspiring material I've heard either, a kind of a slow waltz to nowhere that may to some degree be inspired by the Canadian greats Rush. This album does end on a more inspiring note however, with the massive epic Grey Matter Absence. A creation that opens up as an appropriately majestic and intense progressive metal affair, with plenty of detours to symphonic progressive rock inspired territories, smooth hard rock and even jazz along the way, there's always a revisit to some blazing intermission or other, previous themes are given new runs, and the composition concludes just about where it began. An eleven part epic that is nicely structured, performed with intelligence and generally coming across as an accomplished artistic statement. There's a lot of promise on this album, and at times the promise is fulfilled too. The end result is somewhat uneven though, and mix and production does leave a bit to be desired at times as well. A mixed bag with some nice candy and the occasional sour one that the select few will enjoy.
This debut album explores quite a wide territory, featuring material that will find favor among fans of progressive rock, heavy metal and progressive metal all. Personally I found the compositions closest to progressive metal to be most enjoyable, and then in particular the two epic length tracks that make up more than half the playing length of this album. As such I'd recommend this production to those with an interest in progressive metal first and foremost, and in particular those amongst them who are equally fond of progressive rock.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen
Conclusion. This debut album explores quite a wide territory, featuring material that will find favor among fans of progressive rock, heavy metal and progressive metal all. Personally I found the compositions closest to progressive metal to be most enjoyable, and then in particular the two epic length tracks that make up more than half the playing length of this album. As such I'd recommend this production to those with an interest in progressive metal first and foremost, and in particular those amongst them who are equally fond of progressive rock.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 18, 2014
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